On Earth Day, Beware of Tobacco… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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On Earth Day, Beware of Tobacco Giant’s Green Claims

April 22, 2014

What is “greenwashing?” It’s a deceptive marketing practice in which a company attempts to make itself or its products appear environmentally-friendly in order to distract from an undesirable aspect of its business.

On Earth Day, you need look no further than the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, a subsidiary of Reynolds American, and its Natural American Spirit cigarettes for a particularly deplorable example of this strategy.

Cigarettes are not only the world’s number one cause of preventable death; they’re also a major cause of air, land and water pollution. But you wouldn’t know it looking at Santa Fe’s magazine ads, which tout the company’s cigarettes as “natural,” “organic,” “100% additive-free” and even “eco-friendly.” Their latest ad, which has appeared in magazines from Elle to Rolling Stone, shows a pair of hands cupping a mound of soil – with two packs of cigarettes perched on top, as if they grew there.

American Spirit cigarettes are no less likely to pollute the air or become litter than any other cigarettes. Nor is there any evidence that they’re less deadly – or contain any fewer toxins – than any other cigarette brand. Consumers should not be deceived: there is nothing healthy or environmentally responsible about American Spirit cigarettes or any cigarettes.

Secondhand smoke is harmful air pollution. According to the Surgeon General, secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer. It’s proven to cause lung cancer and heart disease in non-smoking adults. Among infants and children, it causes sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight, respiratory infections, ear infections and more severe asthma attacks.

Cigarette butts are also the number one littered item on U.S. highways and on beaches and waterways worldwide. Even after it’s put out, a cigarette is still dangerous: toxic chemicals and carcinogens can seep out of cigarette waste and pollute the environment, endangering wildlife and contaminating water, according to Legacy.

So on Earth Day, don’t be taken in by Santa Fe’s greenwashing. Tobacco is not a friend to the environment.